‘Journalism demands extreme hard work’
Glamour and big money are, sadly, rarities in the early days of a journalism career. Those who are passionately devoted to the profession should only enter the field. Neha Sethi, a JMI alumna shares her experiences with HT Horizons report Vimal Chander Joshieducation Updated: Jul 07, 2010 10:11 IST
I never wanted to do a nine to five office job and was keen to do something exciting in life. And besides that, news has always fascinated me. Instead of just reading a newspaper, I wanted to write for one.
All these reasons made me study BA (honours) journalism which I did from Kalindi College. Later, I realised that journalism should be studied only at the postgraduate level while graduate studies should be focused only on getting a specialisation such as political science, history or social sciences, economics or any subject wherein you want to gain expertise.
The BA journalism programme of Delhi University is quite comprehensive and an inter disciplinary approach is followed to make students acquainted with an assortment of subjects such as international studies, history and political science. The syllabus encompasses only one or two papers in each subject, and it is logical and essential for a journalist to know about everything — from politics to history and from governance to economics. Studying these diverse subjects makes you a better journalist, but the programme doesn’t train you in electronic media. After I completed my graduation, I felt an urge to study further. In today’s competitive world, it is very important to be a postgraduate. Who knows, you might want to go for research in future. When I graduated from the college (2007), there was no concept of campus placement but I hear now that students do get placed on-campus. It’s a different matter that most of the students who wanted jobs in my batch found those soon after the graduation.
Postgraduation and getting a job
I never applied for a job immediately after graduation and instead went for an MA in convergent journalism from Mass Communication Research Centre (MCRC), Jamia Millia Islamia. Earlier it was called a postgraduate diploma but when I took admission, it had been upgraded to a Master’s degree programme. Ours was the first batch to have got the degree. This programme trains you in all streams of journalism — print, electronic, Internet and radio. I found this better as it could open job opportunities in all domains of media.
I knew that the diverse skill sets I had acquired in my MA studies could easily help me bag a very good job anywhere but my love for writing drew me to a magazine job in Governance Now where I also handle the web news.
Working in a new organisation has its own advantages. You get to learn a lot, whereas in an established organisation, you are normally put in a small function, which might deprive you of the opportunities to learn beyond your job role. I was always interested in covering environment and related subjects as a journalist. My interest in environment was aroused during my graduation days, where we had studied a paper on it. Here, I get to cover these and I doubt if a big organization could have given me such an avenue in the beginning.
It might sound surprising, but studying journalism for five years didn’t give me a brush of real journalism. This profession is all about going in the field, talking to people and gathering facts and truths. You can never learn these things in a classroom. Though students are sent for assignments during college training, but working under deadlines for a publication is a completely different ball game.
In your job as a journalist, you have to run after a politician just to get a small quote, or might have to call up a biggie 30 times just to fix up an interview. If you got to do a story, you got to do it. Period.
After finishing my postgraduation, I applied for International journalists’ conference to be held in Finland in August this year, in which I finally made the cut. There would be one journalist each from twenty-one countries and we will be familiarized with the culture, society and the way of life in Finland.
Many aspiring journalists have a misconception that it is quite a glamorous field, which is far from truth. Even a news anchor who apparently exhibits oodles of glamour has to put in a lot of hard work merely to sustain. The job of a journalist should not be equated with any other job. You should enter only if you are very passionate about it. Even the money is not good initially. Even after the postgraduation, you can’t earn what an MBA earns in the industry.
Neha Sethi is the only journalist from India who got selected to participate in Foreign Correspondents’ Programme in Finland, set to begin in the month of August and continue for six weeks.
The finnish programme
. The ministry of foreign affairs of Finland selects one young journalist each from 21 countries of the world including India for a six-week programme.
. The objective of the programme is to give fresh journalism graduates an opportunity to learn more about Finland, the Finnish society and the Finnish way of life.
It also offers the means to enhance professional skills as well as to expand network of professional colleagues and international friends.
. The programme includes briefings on present day’s Finland, meetings with professionals, politicians and people, visits to business enterprises, cultural sites and
institutions. It also includes a weekend as a guest of a Finnish family as well as visits to different parts of Finland.
. The notification for this programme normally comes in the month if April. Final year students of journalism and those in the first year of their job can apply.
Visit www.formin.finland.fi for further details
As told to Vimal Chander Joshi